Class: Research Methods
The Nature and Tools of Research
1. State three statements that describe what research is not, and for each statement give an example that illustrate your point.
Answer: 1) “Research is not merely gathering information, for example: The teacher sent us to the library today to do research, and I learned a lot about black holes.” For this student, research means going to the library to find a few facts. This might be information discovery, or it might be learning reference skills.
2) Research is not merely rummaging around for hard‐to‐locate information, for example: Research is not merely rummaging around for hard‐to‐locate information. The house across the street is for sale. You consider buying it and call your realtor to find out much money someone else might pay you for your current home. “I’ll have to do some research to determine the fair market value of your property,” the realtor tells you. What the realtor calls doing “some research” means, of course, reviewing information about recent sales of properties comparable to yours; this information will help the realtor zero in on a reasonable asking price for your own home. Such an activity involves little more than rummaging through files to discover what the realtor previously did not know. Rummaging—whether through one’s personal records or at the public or college library—is not research. It is more accurately called an exercise in self‐enlightenment.
3) Research is not merely transporting facts from one location to another, for example:
A college student reads several articles about the mysterious Dark Lady in William Shakespeare’s sonnets and then writes a “research paper” describing various scholars’ suggestions of who the lady might have been. Although the student does, indeed, go through certain activities associated with formal research—collecting information, organizing it in a certain way for presentation to others, supporting statements with documentation, referencing statements properly, and so on—these activities do not add up to a true research paper. The student has missed the essence of research: the interpretation of data however, the mere compilation of facts, presented with reference citations and arranged in a logical sequence—no matter how polished and appealing the format—misses genuine research by a hair. Such activity might more realistically be called fact transcription, fact documentation, fact organization, or fact summarization. Going a little further, this student would have traveled from one world to another: from the world of mere transportation of facts to the world of interpretation of facts.”P2
2. Define research as defined in your text book and as it will be used throughout our discussion of the research methods course.
Answer: “Research is a systematic process of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting information—data—in order to increase our understanding of a phenomenon about which we are interested or concerned. Systematic approach: collect and interpret information to solve the small problem of daily living first enhance our understanding of phenomenon, second expect to communicate what we discover to the larger scientific community.”P2
3. List the eight characteristics of the research according to the order that mandates the order of the research process as defined in your textbook.
1. Research originates with a question or problem.
2. Research requires clear articulation of a goal.
3. Research usually divides the principal problem into more manageable subproblems.
4. Research is guided by the specific research problem, question, or hypothesis.
5. Research requires a specific plan for proceeding.
6. Research rests on certain critical assumptions.
7. Research requires the collection and interpretation of data in an attempt to resolve the problem that initiated the research.
8. Research is, by its nature, cyclical or, more exactly, helical.”p2